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The Art of Machinima

Film program and Q&A in collaboration with Oberhausen Short Film Festival
Torsdag 11.05.23
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Machinima is an innovative and ever-changing form of filmmaking where video games or game engines are employed to create animated movies and other forms of visual media.

This year's edition of the Oberhausen Short Film Festival in Germany presented Against Gravity. The Art of Machinima, an extensive program curated by Vladimir Nadein and Dmitry Frolov that delved into some of the most compelling aspects of Machinima.

In collaboration with the festival, we hereby present its first section, Hold the Controller, a program that examines how filmmakers address questions regarding the relationship between the body, identity and the game apparatus.

With an introduction and Q&A with Vladimir Nadein and Dmitry Frolov.

About the program

Machinima (from "machine", "animation" and "cinema") where video games or game engines are employed to create animated movies and other forms of visual media, has been an innovative and ever-changing form of filmmaking for almost 30 years. Emerging in the late 90s and gaining popularity in the early 2000s, it has evolved over the years from a hobbyist pursuit to a legitimate form of art.

Vladimir Nadein and Dmitry Frolov's extensive program at the Oberhausen Short Film Festival delved into some of the most compelling aspects of machinima: the relationship and interactions between virtual avatars and physical bodies, counter-gaming in digital environments, utopian thinking and alternative world-building, photorealism and a new form of cinephilia in video games. The program consisted of several sections styled like a video game menu that suggests certain actions.

"Machinima is often compared to a puppet theatre, except that the actors in it are not material, but ephemeral, as they are computer game characters. These digital marionettes provide extended performative possibilities that are inaccessible to human beings, limited by the boundaries of physical bodies. But there is a certain splitting between the avatar and the player who manipulates it. This is not only a toy in the hands of the puppeteer, but also something to strongly identify with. Many video games allow a person to become someone else, for example turn into an animal, or play with gender roles, all while communicating with other people online. But to what extent are humans in control of what is going on in the video games, and how far does it act back on the player? As they occupy an increasing place in our lives, such virtual experiences can be both liberating and repressive. This question of the relationship between the body, identity and the game apparatus has been of great interest to many machinima artists for a long time. In this context, Shakespeare’s famous saying that the ‘All the world’s a stage / And all the men and women merely players’ takes on a literal meaning."

- Vladimir Nadein and Dmitry Frolov

About the films

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